The Responsibilities of an Executor
You are responsible for managing the distribution of the estate. You’ll need to navigate through legal terminology and have an understanding of how probate works. You will interact with grieving family members, and you’ll need to be able to travel to where the deceased person lived. Among other duties, you’ll be expected to complete the appropriate paperwork and oversee investments.
So what’s next? How do you prepare? Here’s an overview of the duties you’ll be responsible for:
- File a copy of the will with the probate court
- Determine if probate is necessary
- Provide death notice to banks, credit card companies, and government authorities
- Establish a bank account to deposit funds and to pay bills
- Conduct an inventory of the assets
- Maintain property until it is distributed or sold
- Pay debts and taxes
- Distribute the assets
- Represent the estate in court
Executors Carry Out The Terms of the Will
As the executor, you are expected to carry out the terms of the will. This can be relatively simple or very complex, depending on the estate plan, and on how well the family members and beneficiaries cooperate. In some instances, it’s a relatively smooth process. In other cases, it’s like having another job. The process becomes particularly complex if the estate must go through probate. This may happen if the wishes are unclear, or the second parent passes away.
How to Prepare for the Role of Executor
Before the day comes when you assume the role of executor, there are several steps you can take to prepare ahead of time.
- Ask the person who named you as executor to inform other family members and explain the rationale for the decision. This helps avoid resentment down the road.
- Read through the estate plan so that you understand exactly what will be expected of you. If anything is not clear, ask for clarification. Make sure you have specific information on exactly who gets what.
- If assets could be subject to probate, consider consulting an attorney to set up a trust.
- Make sure there is a list of assets and debts. Make sure passwords and any other information to access accounts are easily accessible to you.
- Find out if there is an immediately available source of funds, such as a joint checking account to pay funeral and other immediate expenses.
- Determine if you’ll need help administering the estate. Identify possible candidates for future reference.
Although it’s not required to have any special knowledge of taxes or estate law, it’s important to consult accountants, attorneys, and other professionals when necessary. Finally, if you feel you don’t have the time, skills, or willingness to take on the role of executor, you might want to tactfully suggest that someone else fulfill the role of executor.
Estate planning is complicated yet necessary to ensure the protection of, not only your assets but more importantly, your loved ones. If you need advice from a professional, particularly an estate planning lawyer, contact us at Moschetti Law Group. Call 888-664-1848 for a free initial consultation with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys.